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October 4, 2017 - Polo at the Point to benefit MCI cancer research
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The upcoming Polo at the Point, now in its 29th year, will allow USA Mitchell Cancer Institute to purchase key laboratory equipment used in cancer research.

Proceeds from the event, set for Sunday, October 15 at Sonny Hill Farm in Fairhope, will allow MCI to purchase an AKTA Pure M chromatography system for MCI’s Structural Biology Lab, which is headed by cancer researcher Aishwarya Prakash, Ph.D.

Prakash said the system will enable researchers to purify proteins away from nucleic acids and other contaminants within samples. “Purified human proteins can be used to understand basic mechanisms of what drives tumor formation and progression and helps develop new and novel therapeutics to treat cancer,” she said. “The ability to purify proteins is critical to analyzing therapeutic compounds and their interactions with protein targets, which will improve our chances of targeting cancer cells in the future and limiting side effects,” she said.

Prakash is one of 15 principal investigators who work in basic research at MCI, an academic cancer center with offices in Mobile, Fairhope and Monroeville. “I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the organizers for this opportunity to expand our experimental abilities at the MCI and to the rest of the community for their kind contributions to help us combat cancer.”

When Point Clear Charities formed with its first Polo at the Point event in 1988, funds were focused on childhood cancer. Since then, millions of dollars have been raised in support of MCI and Thomas Hospital Foundation, as well as a dozen local nonprofits.

The U.S. Polo Association-sanctioned event is presented by Mercedes-Benz of Mobile and the Grand Hotel Marriott. A tournament during the week determines the final four, often including teams from Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Georgia as well as Clearwater Polo Team based in Point Clear.

Putting on the event is a year-long endeavor involving a committee of at least 60 and more than 100 volunteers on game day. “I got to know the event just as a fan over the years – a spectator on the tailgate or the tent side,” said Linda Lou Parsons – chairing the event for her ninth year. “Like so many of us, I fell in love with this event and its impact as an incredible fundraiser and wanted to be a part.”

One of the event’s features is the chance to see amateurs playing alongside professionals – often some of the most well-known high-goal players in the world. One of the most famous? Major Ronald Ferguson, the one-time deputy chairman of the Guards Polo Club of Windsor but better known as the father of Sarah, Duchess of York. The after-party in those early days normally took place at the legendary Judge Roy Bean club on Scenic 98.

Gates will open at 11:30am, with the silent auction to begin at noon featuring works of fine art, hunting and fishing adventures, exotic travel packages and more. The mid-day luncheon has grown over the years to a glamorous Palm-Beach worthy venue of flowers, décor, food and wine. The first match – The Charity Cup – gets underway at 12:30 pm to determine the third-place finisher. At 3:30pm the Grand Oak Cup will crown the champion team. An award presentation follows at 5pm with music for the Player’s Party kicking off at 6pm.

In between, the halftime divot stomping, hat parade, Mercedes Draw Down and people-watching make Polo weekend one of the most entertaining of the year. Ticket prices range from $10 for the tailgate side and may be purchased (cash only) at the gate. Tailgate admission for children is free, and a food truck will offer options for those not creating their own festive spread – another longtime polo tradition.

For the first time, Fairhope Fete will also take place during the October event weekend. The global fashion event featuring local merchants, on-trend design and a runway show happens October 12 at the Sonny Hill Farm Polo Pavilion. Tickets for general admission are $50, with VIP tickets for $150 including select wines and food from 12 Fairhope Restaurants.

Tickets for Fairhope Fete, the Player’s Party and Polo at the Point are available online at www.poloatthepoint.com.

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